I am a fan of epistolary novels and Ella Minnow Pea fits that style of novel as the story is told through letters. So, when my book club voted a few months ago for our August book, I was excited that Ella Minnow Pea was the top pick. It sounded like a fun, quirky book and I expected to like it. Well, I have to admit that I was not a fan of the book and I really wanted to like it!
Ella Minnow Pea is the actual name of a young girl who lives on the fictional island of Nollop. Nollop is considered it's own country separate from the U.S. and is off the coast of South Carolina. The Island of Nollop was named after the famous author Nevin Nollop who authored the famous pangram: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog". Mr. Nollop is the hero and icon of the island and a statue of him stands in honor with this infamous pangram included.
The residents of the island live a simpler life than the U.S. and primarily communicate through letters which are mailed by what appears to be pony express style delivery. There is no electricity, telephone, computers or technology of any kind. One day, the letters start falling off the infamous Nollop statue and the officials of the town council who govern the island deem that it is a message from Nollop not to use these letters. The town council decided that serious charges would be enforced if any of the residents used these letters in oral or written communication of any kind. The island becomes divided by those who follow these beliefs and those who disagree and mayhem ensues as letters continue to fall off the Nollop statue.
You learn all of this as you read the letters of Ella Minnow Pea to her parents, her cousin and aunt and then among other residents of the island. They must figure out a way to communicate without using the banned letters.
I found the letter writing style well done, the main characters were interesting and I wanted to know more about them and how they would survive this change of events on their island. I just didn't enjoy the story and found it silly at times and downright annoying at others. The author writes with a strong use of language and linguistics and those who love words and linguistics will most likely love this book. If you like satire, you most likely will enjoy this book.
Book Club Views:
During the summer, my book club usually goes out for dinner at a restaurant or to a wine bar for drinks and appetizers or dessert. We met last night at a wonderful new to me wine bar and sat outside on a beautiful night on an outdoor patio overlooking a river. It was very relaxing and a perfect spot to sit back and sip an appletini and share appetizers and discuss books. I have to admit this was my first appletini and it looked similar to this picture. It was absolutely delicious and served in a beautiful glass similar to this one. I guess that you can tell that I don't get out that much and am not a big drinker! This would be a fun drink to make for a book club or gathering of friends at a dinner party or get together. Is anyone else a fan of the appletini?
Onto the book discussion....We had a great discussion, although not all members of the book club could attend. Of the 5 of us that were there, 3 liked Ella Minnow Pea and 2 of us did not care for it. From what I understand, the 2 that did not make it to the book club were nays also. It was interesting for me to hear why the others liked the book and what they got out of it that I did not. They all liked the satire, the appeal to the word lover and the fantasy of the story. We had a great discussion about how the residents of the island communicated by letter writing and how we have lost that in our society with the increase of email and text messaging. The book club members that liked the book would definitely recommend it and for myself who was not fond of it would recommend Ella Minnow Pea to those that like satire and are word lovers.
We vote a few months ahead for our book club discussions and next month we are discussing Belong to Me by Marisa De los Santos. I read this book (and loved it)along with the Book Club Girl discussion group a few months ago and will post my review next month.